Fifteen months after giving Michael Bennett a new contract, the Seahawks are going to trade him.
Why? Not because his play has dropped off, obviously. More likely because they want to get younger and “quieter” in the locker room.
Seattle didn’t get much for the Pro Bowl end — a fifth and fast, young receiver Marcus Johnson (while flipping a seventh to Philadelphia as well). One report indicated the Patriots tried to offer a third for Bennett and a fifth, but it sounds like the Seahawks had a deal with the Eagles before the Patriots came along and the Seahawks didn’t want to renege on the Eagles.
It’s very odd the Seahawks are dealing Bennett before his extension, signed Dec. 30, 2016, has even kicked in. They basically paid him an extra $8 million to play the final year of his previous contract. Call it a “tenure” bonus.
Trading Bennett saved Seattle $2.2 million against the cap — so this obviously was not a true cap cut. They simply decided to move on from the banged-up and controversial 32-year-old as they go younger all around. So Seattle figures to lose both Bennett and Cliff Avril, who will talk to his surgeon this week to see where he stands in his recovery. Frank Clark and RFA Dion Jordan are the favorites to start at ends for Seattle next season. And that position looms as a big need in the draft.
Bennett was one of the more colorful characters to ever wear Seahawks blue and green. He was known for his alter ego, Black Santa, and for riding police bikes and drawing fines for his three-pump gyrations after sacks. He gave a ton of colorful interviews, often with some reference to making love to his wife.
But it went from light and fun to heavy and serious the past couple of years, with Bennett first uptight about his contract and fighting on the field a lot, then, after he got the extension, stepping up his social activism game with anthem protests. (FWIW, we were 100 percent behind his message.) The controversial Vegas arrest poured more fuel on the fires of controversy.
Through it all, Bennett hung tough on the field and remained one of the top ends in the NFL (he had 8.5 sacks despite playing with a torn plantar fascia last season). But Pete Carroll and John Schneider apparently changed their minds about whether they wanted Bennett for another year, deciding to move to younger players now.
Bennett will go down as one of the best D-linemen in Seattle history. He ranks seventh on the club’s historic sack list, with 39 over his five seasons. His sack rate per game (.52) ranks third in team history (min. four seasons), behind Chris Clemons (.61) and Jacob Green (.55).
He’s sixth on the DL tenure list — Nash, Green, Bryant, Kennedy and Sinclair were all over 140 games, while Bennett played just 75 over five seasons. The first four guys are in the Ring of Honor. Because Bennett helped Seattle win a Super Bowl, he probably will end up there, too.
Bennett bid a fond farewell to Seattle.